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Drew Garrison | June 17, 2014

Lakers Discussion

Carmelo Anthony's free agency

Carmelo Anthony is expected to test free agency this summer. How will this affect the Lakers, and opening thoughts on the prolific scorer.

Carmelo Anthony is expected to test free agency this summer. How will this affect the Lakers, and opening thoughts on the prolific scorer.
The Discussion

    The Los Angeles Lakers have plenty of internal roster decisions to make with their own free agents, but none of the players on their way out are franchise-altering at this point. Free agency begins on July 1, with big names possibly hitting the open market pending on contract options.

    LeBron James may be the ultimate target this summer if he exercises his early termination option, but multiple media reports point to Carmelo Anthony seeking options outside of the New York Knicks. Anthony has been one of the league's most prolific scorers but hasn't been able to lift the Knicks to title contention since leaving the Denver Nuggets.

    What's your first thought that comes to mind when you think of Carmelo Anthony, and how do you think his free agency will affect the Lakers?

  • Drew Garrison

    My thoughts split in two different directions when I think about Carmelo Anthony.

    First, his likely impending free agency is absolutely going to affect the Lakers. I can't imagine a world where the Lakers don't, at the very least, give the Melo Man a call. He's a high profile free agent who has a good relationship with Kobe Bryant. I don't know what Anthony will look for this summer, but if the Lakers DO meet with him and he decides to sign elsewhere, expect noise about the franchise being dealt another blow. Right, wrong, or otherwise, there will be plenty of folks lined up to throw eggs at the Lakers' fortress.

    Meloman_medium

    Carmelo Anthony is a HELL of a player is the second and most important thing. He's played through incredible dysfunction in New York with a flawed roster and finally-fired head coach, and has looked spectacular these last two seasons. Do you know the last player who put up 27 points and eight rebounds while shooting over 45 percent from the field - a platter of averages 'Melo just compiled in New York? Shaquille O'Neal in 2002-03. Only Larry Bird (sorry, Hakeem Olajuwon your 18 three-point attempts don't qualify you) and Anthony have averaged those numbers while also shooting at least 40 percent from three-point range.

    There's nothing he can't do on offense, and while many will say "cool but defense," I think Anthony's credentials as one of the league's premier scorers while also being great on the boards more than covers for his deficiencies. He always has to be accounted for on offense. Slot him at power forward, or small forward, and let him go to work. His points per possession in multiple categories, via Synergy Sports Technology, is incredible.

    Would he immediately lead the Lakers back into contention? There's still way too many variables to project that far ahead, but with Anthony I wouldn't be overly concerned about the first year or even second year. He's a player a general manager can absolutely build around, and having him on board as one of the foundational pieces while the team could be in the final years of Kobe Bryant's career sounds like a pretty good Plan B to LeBron James. Letting him build some synergy with the No. 7 pick in the meantime is another sound long-term investment. This is a four or five year investment, not a two years and down situation.

    If Carmelo Anthony is there for the taking I think the Lakers should get his name in ink without thinking twice. The bigger question with 'Melo, to me, is how Los Angeles can lure him away from ready-to-go playoff teams like the Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets. Right back to my first point, expect the front office to be put to the test if they really are interested in bringing Anthony to L.A..

  • Harrison Faigen

    I already wrote out my thoughts on "Melo as Lakers Savior," but when picturing Carmelo Anthony in a Lakers uniform, the first word that comes to mind is "unlikely."

    I hate to be the pessimist in all of these roundtables, but this is just based on the facts at hand. Yes; Melo does seem to have a genuine friendship with Kobe Bryant. However, I do not think that that is going to be enough to dissuade him from escaping New York to L.A., rather than the more attractive potential destinations from a roster standpoint. The Lakers do have the 7th pick in the draft this year, as well as the aforementioned Black Mamba, but I just do not think these pieces, plus a bunch of other flotsam, makes L.A. a more desirable destination than Houston (big three with James Harden and He Who Shall Not Be Named) or Chicago (Rose, Joakim Noah, and the promise of a top 5 defense under Tom Thibodeau), his two currently rumored favorites.

    So getting back to the original question, I think that 'Melo's free agency will NEGATIVELY affect the Lakers in that it will be potentially another blow to the franchises luster and mystique if another prime free agent turns them down.

  • The CDP

    His teams have failed to win big and win consistently, taking so much flack he's probably underrated as a result.

    My first reaction to hearing about Carmelo opting out was, "Please not the Lakers." There's a lot to digest about a potential Carmelo Anthony signing. I know that he and Kobe are good friends, going back to their Team USA basketball days. Carmelo is an insane FIBA basketball player, destroying the competition when he has a very defined role and just has to score. Unfortunately for Melo, he has been asked to dominate and win championships as the best player on his team in the NBA, something he doesn't seem capable of doing. His teams have failed to win big and win consistently, taking so much flack he's probably underrated as a result. I still believe Carmelo is a top NBA player who is an elite rebounder for his position, a great scorer who sometimes ball stops too much, and a competitor who can win under the right circumstances.

    While I'm sure that Mitch will talk to him and Kobe may campaign for him, I don't want him on the Lakers. His max contract combined with Kobe's extension would limit the team's cap flexibility and hamper their ability to field much else in the way of a team. Furthermore, it's clear that Melo wants to win now and that the Lakers are in the midst of rebuilding. Carmelo has never been the most patient player in the L, but he would need to be if he came to L.A.

    A team rebuilding from a 27 win season isn't going to be an NBA Finals team next season, regardless of what happens. The Lakers need to focus on rebuilding with smaller, more affordable pieces rather than a cap clogging franchise savior this year. They don't have the depth to contend with any one signing, period. The early word from Melo's camp is that he wants to focus on the Bulls and the Rockets, which makes more sense to me than the Lakers. Although there are caveats like Rose's health and Houston's need to salary dump the poison pill Lin/Asik contracts, those teams have the pieces in place to slot 'Melo in immediately.

melo(Photo credit USA TODAY Sports)
  • Ben Rosales

    Carmelo Anthony has always been a pipe dream as far as the Lakers are considered and this was even before Kobe Bryant's extension severely hampered their flexibility this offseason and next. Of all the free agents available this summer, Melo stands alone with a staggering $22.4 million as the maximum starting point of his next contract and it is very likely that the Lakers would have to offer something close to that to lure Melo to a team utterly bereft of assets or any sort of capacity to contend in the near future.

    Even if Melo was willing to come for some figure significantly less expensive than that, however, the Lakers aren't in an especially good place to maximize what he can bring to the team. He'll have to split the load with Kobe and while that could probably work out better than most think -- Melo's spot-up shooting was amazingly good on an awful Knicks team last year and from everything we've heard, he and Kobe have a good relationship, hopefully easing the inevitable rocky transition over sharing the ball -- the Lakers completely lack the sort of elite rim protector they'd need to make up for having Melo at the four for extended stretches.

    Any trade to bring in that kind of player, say Tyson Chandler from the Knicks if Phil Jackson decides to cut salary in the wake of a Melo departure or Houston shopping Omer Asik to clear cap space for an elite player, also makes it difficult for Melo to come over because it cuts deeply into the Lakers' cap space this upcoming summer, even with a use of the stretch provision on Steve Nash. (The Asik scenario is vaguely plausible since the Lakers could get around $26.5 million in cap space after stretching Nash, leaving $18 million to sign Melo after an Asik trade, although pulling it off is another matter entirely. As for Chandler, he makes nearly $15 million next season, rendering this a moot point.) This perhaps could have been an interesting topic to parse if the Lakers were in a position to draft Joel Embiid, although that's not going to be the case.

    So in sum, this isn't really a line of talk the Lakers are going to be involved in a whole lot this summer. There are some free agent targets of note that might be realistic, but they come at less than half of Melo's likely asking price. This is simply the reality of the cap situation the Lakers have to deal with going forward.

About the Author

Gasolina

Contributor at SB Nation NBA, lead editor for SB Nation's Lakers blog Silver Screen and Roll, author of Stat Stuffing. Spend way too much time watching NBA plays over, and over and over. Doodling arrows on plays and creating diagrams is a hobby of mine.

I don't drink Sprite despite Grant Hill doing so.

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